Fascism

In order to combat fascism, it is first necessary to understand it"Marxists are scientific socialists who understand that any successful cure of a disease depends upon a precise diagnosis. We do not bandy about words like 'fascist' as mere terms of abuse. In order to combat fascism, it is first necessary to understand it." — From What is Fascism? And is it an imminent threat today?Fascism is really the death agony of capitalism and the “distilled essence of imperialism”. The fascists in Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries were only able to come to power on the back of defeats of the working class. Ultimately, the madness of fascism expresses the historic crisis and dead-end of capitalism that had arrived by the early 20th Century, alongside the inability of the working class to take power and replace capitalism with a workers’ state, due to the corruption of their leadership, in the form of both reformism and Stalinism. Fascism could and should have easily been avoided had the working class possessed a militant and united leadership prepared to take power.

We publish for the first time in electronic form, this important document written by Ted Grant in the autumn of 1944. It analyses the consequences of the inevitable victory of Anglo-American imperialism and the growing grip of Stalinism over the European masses due to the immense prestige gained by the Red Army. It also explains why the imperialists would find themselves in a relatively weak position and would need to grant concessions to the masses in Europe. Imperialism would be forced to do this in order to carry out a counterrevolution, albeit in a democratic form, with the help of the leaders of the mass reformist and Stalinist parties.

At the end of the war, the tremendous psychological shock occasioned by the events of the war, the collaboration of the bourgeoisie of the defeated countries with the Nazi invaders, had undermined the former habitual acceptance of bourgeois domination over the nation. As Ted Grant wrote in 1944, "The problem of the German revolution cannot be separated from the problem of the revolution in all Europe. The war has tied the fate of all the European countries together. Events in one will have immediate repercussions in all the others."

In July 1944 the Allies had their forces in France ready to march eastwards towards Germany. In the British media there were calls for punishment of all Germans, conveniently ignoring the fact that the German workers had always been opposed to Hitler, whereas the British bourgeois had welcomed his crushing of the German labour movement in 1933.

Contrary to the official mythology about Churchill, by 1944 he was already losing support among the people of Britain. This article by Ted Grant, written at the time and based on local election results, shows that the workers were becoming radicalised. This was to be confirmed in a dramatic way just after the war when Labour won a landslide victory.

When Mussolini was removed by a palace coup in July 1943 the masses came out onto the streets, rejoicing at the fall of the hated dictator. Ted Grant wrote an article shortly after those events stressing that this was the beginning of the revolution in Italy and beyond.

The summer of 1943 marked a dramatic turn in the Second World War. In this article Ted Grant analysed the implications of the Allied invasion of Sicily and the opening of the Second Front, the attempts by Churchill to reach a deal with the Italian monarchy and prop up a regime of the accomplices of fascism which would preserve the interests of Anglo-US imperialism against the rising revolutionary tide. As in the case of North Africa with Giraud, Allied imperialism was dropping the "democratic" mask showing their real aims and interests in the war.

In 1942 the British Stalinists launched a vicious campaign of slander and lies against Trotskyism. Ted Grant, in the best traditions of Marxism, used the weapon of truth to reply to the Stalinists, whose methods were without honour, truth and conscience.

In 1942 a slanderous campaign against the Socialist Appeal waged by the Communist Party leaders was backed up by the Sunday Dispatch, infamous for its early enthusiastic support of Hitler, Mosley and the Blackshirts. They shamelessly joined forces to accuse the Trotskyists of being Hitler's agents! Here is Ted Grant's reply to these slanders.

Stalin’s attitude towards the German people zig-zagged as his relations with his imperialist allies changed. At one point he distinguished between the Nazis and the German workers at other times he blamed the German people as a whole for Nazism. Throughout, however, he never raised a genuine internationalist position. His perspective was not the struggle for world socialism, but merely defence of Russia’s borders.

As Hitler's armies advanced into the Soviet Union, Ted Grant explained that it was the abandonment of genuine workers' democracy and internationalism and its replacement by a dictatorial national bureaucratic regime that weakened the ability of the country to stop the Nazis. In spite of this the duty of British workers was to defend the land of October with all means possible.

In June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the USSR. The treacherous policies of Stalin enforced in the non-aggression pact with Hitler of August 1939 were wiped away and the Soviet bureaucracy was thrown into panic. Overnight the Communist International changed its policy from one of opposition to imperialist war to one of collaboration with the democratic nations in the war against fascism. Ted Grant explains the Marxist position back in July 1941.

The French ruling class had miserably succumbed to Nazi domination in 1940. Now Britain faced the threat of invasion. In France the bourgeoisie refused to arm the people for fear that these arms would eventually be turned against them. The revolutionary socialists in Britain posed the demand of expropriating the capitalists and arming the workers to stop any Nazi invasion.

"An endless period of destruction and slaughter opens out before the peoples of the world. It can be ended, not by the victory of either imperialism, which would merely lay the basis for new wars and is not in the interests of the workers of any country, but by the victory of the workers over imperialism." Ted Grant in the early period of the Second World War.

In the early stages of the war Germany wished to maintain nominal neutrality among the other nations in Europe, especially among those with whom she shared a common frontier. Britain, in order to strike at Germany, tried to spread the war as widely as possible, neither being in the least concerned with the ‘rights of small nations’. As Ted Grant wrote, “The people of Europe can look forward to a few months more or less of the present deadlock, then the sanguinary slaughter – there is no other prospect.”

As the war dragged on Ted Grant highlighted the real reason for the war, the conflict between German and British imperialism for domination of Europe. The war was presented as one against Nazi dictatorship, but at the same time the British had a liking for Franco and were also courting Mussolini, revealing the fact that their opposition to “dictatorship” was pure hypocrisy.

As the world stood on the brink of world war Ted Grant wrote, “If world capitalism has no solution for its problems excepting new and more horrible slaughter of whole nations, it is time this insane system were ended… The sole way out for the youth lies in the overthrow of capitalism and workers’ power and socialism. Our path lies in building up the revolutionary socialist youth which alone can lead us away from the nightmare of war which hangs over us.” 

As armaments were piled up in preparation for the Second World War Ted Grant explained that, “This war machine is for the defence of the trading interests and the colonial loot of British imperialism, for what is making for war is the intensified and sharpened struggle for markets between the different countries of the world.”

In 1933 Trotsky dealt with the question of the relevance of democratic demands as the German working class was being crushed by the rise of Hitler. Here we publish an introduction to Trotsky’s article, Fascism and Democratic Slogans (July 1933) together with the original article. Written for an Iranian audience, it explains the need for Marxists to be in the forefront of the struggle for democratic demands, while at the same time explaining that the democratic aspirations of the masses can only be satisfied in the struggle for socialism.